Wired NextFest 2008 – You Are There

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A Face For Radio

Vintage TV show You Are There represented early television’s attempt to evoke a live event by recreating a historical one. Kind of like reporting or blogging. As a TV show however, it was the kind of yawner that could only have aired at a time when the medium was desperate for content and network executives reasoned that any show that had enjoyed success on the radio couldn’t miss on TV. So what’s that got to do with NextFest 2008? Let me explain.

Mr. Micro Meet Mr. Blog

When I got the invitation to hear Wired Editor in Chief Chris Anderson talk about his book Free! I planned to blog the experience as I had the ABA TechShow and other events over the past few years.

But when I arrived at NextFest something told me this was going to be different. Maybe it was the pervasive use of blue lights or the elegant feng shui of the exhibits; maybe I had an epiphany wedged in the front row of the audience between one lady holding a video-camera over my head and another balancing a pocket recorder between thumb and forefinger inches from my face. Whatever the reason, I knew that I had to take evasive action. My answer: iPhone + Twitterphone. You can see the results in this companion post or choose to follow me on Twitter.

So…What’s The Connection?

As Anderson noted in his presentation, The Future of Free (which is really just his spin on Joseph Schumpeter‘s theory of “creative destruction”), there are a number of forces that link new ideas and new media, from You Are There in the early days of television to Twitter on the Internet. They are:

  • Fear of scarcity brings out radically different behaviors than hopes of abundance
  • The latter inevitably leads to waste – the good kind that encourages trial-and-error
  • Where the cost of failure is virtually zero, experimentation will flourish
  • Where people are trying new things all the time, at least 1 good idea is bound to assert itself
  • If the attempt is a bust, the cycle can quickly restart thanks to low barriers and costs

In the end, You Are There wasn’t so much a TV show as a radio program retrofitted for the new medium. It wasn’t until mass adoption of TV-sets and the ubiquity of free programming a decade later that broadcasters began understanding that they could afford to fail and not lose their audience. The experience lead TV in directions that its inventors could never have foreseen.

The Future of Free! Is The Future of the Internet

The Internet is our generation’s zero-cost distribution system; our TV. Twitter itself is a perfect example of how the Internet has lead to waste – the wrong and right kinds. So what if Twitter and its clones turn out to be spectacular failures? It doesn’t matter; the eco-system created by the Internet is still at work so long as thousands of failures lead to 1 good idea. After all, that’s what the future of free is all about.

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What: Wired NextFest 2008
When: Saturday, September 27, 2008 (all day)
Where: Millennium Park, Chase Promenade

55 N Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois United States

One response to “Wired NextFest 2008 – You Are There

  1. Pingback: NextFest 2008 - Twitter Posts « pm blog

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